The climb was quite a workout and Matthew is a much better endurance athlete than I am. Needless to say, on this hot and humid afternoon, my legs and lungs were burning climbing up the mountain. But I love the downhill. My reward was a fast and fun descent that made all the climbing worth it. Without the effort of the climb, there is no reward.
Another favorite of mine is riding my bike from my house to the top of Jump Off Rock in Laurel Park. It takes me about 30 minutes to get to the top (23 is my record), but only 12 minutes to come back down in a fury of pavement. Again, the reward of speeding down Laurel Park Highway does not happen unless I suffer my way up that steep grade to Echo Mountain Inn and beyond.
I think that one of the mistakes we make a lot as a society is we try to make everything "safe". No one gets hurt, everyone wins. But with that there is no reward and no growth. The more I suffer going up the mountains, the easier the climbs gradually become. It's the growth that comes with the pain in which we truly benefit. When we sanitize everything so no one gets "hurt", we've neutered the very means by which we blossom as individual and a society.
My friend Rachel brought me some little tomato plants to plant at my house. Since I have no green thumb, she was giving me tips. She said that you have to be "brutal" to the plant, clipping its leaves to the stalk and planting the stalk. Though it may seem like to are murdering the plant, where you cut will actually take root stronger and better than if you never cut them before.
Last year, my neighbor Don and I pruned the azaleas in my back yard. They were over four feet high and he pruned them down to stumps. He said "trust me, they'll grow back". Gradually, those stumps became shoots. They endured the drought and the winter. This spring, they had the prettiest blossoms in years.
The struggle up the mountain is good; it will yield a reward if we are persistent. The pruning of the leaves and branches is worthwhile; it will result in growth and bloom if we are patient.